Single people have always had to work harder to be able to put away money for retirement, primarily because they must live on one income while covering 100 percent of their living expenses. This can make it very difficult to save for retirement or build an emergency fund for unexpected expenses.
Solos must plan harder for retirement and start earlier. They need to consider where and how they will live, how they will make sure that they have a support system in place if their health fails or something goes wrong, and how they will stay active and socially engaged as they get older. Finding and nurturing a sense of community is essential for everyone. As humans, we want and need to feel as if we are part of a community, at least on some basic level. These days, that sense of community, and the support system which often comes with it, is as likely to come from friends, co-workers, activity partners or housemates as it is from a spouse or significant other. Community building is one area where solos often excel.
Not all of the differences are challenges. We are beginning to discover how satisfied and happy many older solos really are. They are active and engaged, and lead lives that are busy with work, activities or volunteering. Many of them try out new careers or pursue new passions. Often they start new businesses. Active older solos often find that being on their own allows them to sample and make a greater range of life choices that truly reflect their interests and talents.
Solos also enjoy greater flexibility and freedom than their coupled counterparts when it comes to planning. Their retirement strategies are more likely to reflect where and how they want to live and how they want to save and spend their money.
The topics in my book, Retiring Solo, are relevant to everyone – whether solo or married, partnered or otherwise paired off. Why? Because everyone who isn’t solo right now is likely to become solo again at some point. That’s the reality. We begin our lives as solos and we typically also end them that way. Planning for a solo retirement is a practical, proactive choice, no matter how coupled and happy you may be at this moment. It is important to consider the possibilities and the issues now, start thinking about how you want to live your life in the future and what it will take for you to realize that goal, financially, physically and socially. This is the best way to ensure a happy, healthy, independent future.